Aleksandra Samusenko

Aleksandra Samusenko

Originally a private in the infantry, Samusenko won the Order of the Red Star in the Battle of Kursk, the largest tank battle in history, for a fight where she and her T-34 tank defeated three German tiger tanks in an encounter lasting several hours. Later in the war, when her commanding officer was killed, she took over and led her group out of an ambush. She also fought alongside US Army Sergeant Joseph Beyrle, who had escaped from a German POW camp in January 1945, and encountered Samusenko’s group while on the run. Beyrle convinced Samusenko he was legitimate by demonstrating he knew demolitions work, and he became the only American to serve in World War 2 with both the US and Soviet Armies; he helped liberate the POW camp in which he had been held! Unfortunately, there was no such happy ending for Samusenko, who was reportedly crushed to death by another Soviet tank in March 1945. She had reached the rank of Captain.

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